5killed, 7 injured as IPOB, MASSOB clash with JTF in Onitsha


Court orders Kanu’s release from detention Jubilation as Nnamdi Kanu regains freedom
Kanu’s release, a triumph over injustice —MASSOB

Implement Confab report now—Ohanaeze

By Chidi Nkwopara, Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Francis Igata & Ugochukwu Alaribe

FIVE persons were, yesterday, shot dead at the Niger Bridge Head, while seven others sustained varying degrees of injuries when members of the Indigenous people of Biafra, IPOB, and Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, clashed with Joint Task Force, JTF, comprising the  Army and the Police, which mounted road block at the Niger Head Bridge.

Four of the victims shot dead were members of both IPOB and MASSOB, while one person is said to be a soldier, who was grabbed by the  mob, angry with the way soldiers opened fire on the jubilating crowd that included non pro-Biafra agitators, and fell four of them before they ran for their lives, leaving the victims behind.

All the markets around the Niger Bridge Head, including the Bridge Head Market, Onitsha Patent and Propitiatory Medicine Dealers Market (Ogbo Ogwu Market) and other markets located around the bridge, including Abada Market were quickly shut down, following sporadic shooting by the military to scare the jubilant crowd away.

Meanwhile, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday,  ordered the Department of State Service, DSS, to immediately release  the detained  leader of IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.

The court directed that Kanu, who had been in detention since October 17,  should be released “unconditionally.”

Ruling on the fundamental rights suit by Kanu, the trial judge, Justice Ademola Adeniyi, said there was no basis for the applicant to remain in custody since there was currently no charge pending against him.

The court order came barely 24 hours after an Abuja Chief Magistrate’s Court sitting at Wuse Zone 2, struck out a one-count  charge the Federal Government preferred against the IPOB leader.

Meanwhile, according to an eye-witness at the Onitsha Head Bridge, who was coming from Asaba end of the bridge, the Biafra agitators were said to be marching on the road near the River Niger Bridge, chanting solidarity songs in jubilation for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, and were accosted by the soldiers, who ordered them to go back, and disagreements ensued before the soldiers allegedly opened fire on them.

Another version of the story had it that, the pro-Biafra agitators and those sympathetic to their cause, were jubilating, singing and dancing near the bridge and in annoyance, the soldiers, who had been guiding the bridge since the last shooting, during which unarmed nine protesters were killed and 18 others  injured,  opened fire on them, gunning down four.

The Indigenous People of Biafra on a Peaceful Protest over the Arrest of the Director of Radio Biafra yesterday along Ikwerre road in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Photo: Nwankpa Chijioke

FILE: The Indigenous People of Biafra on a Peaceful Protest over the Arrest of the Director of Radio Biafra along Ikwerre road in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Photo: Nwankpa Chijioke

Contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Ali Okechukwu confirmed the clash and accused the pro-Biafra agitators of mobilizing over I00 of their members to launch attack on the soldiers at the Niger Bridge Head and even tried to dispossess them of their guns.

The PPRO, who was silent on the number of people killed,  said: “I learnt that there was a disagreement between the Army, IPOB and MASSOB members, who mobilized over I00 of their members to attack soldiers at the Niger Bridge Head.”

He said that he was trying to get the Army authorities to ascertain the true position of the incident, but unfortunately they were not picking their calls. He was also not forth-coming on the number of casualties at press time, and requested that he be given enough time to make calls to ascertain the true position of things.

Speaking on the incident, leader of MASSOB, Mr. Uchenna Madu said the news of the release of Mr. Kanu elicited singing, dancing and jubilation in Onitsha and other ‘Biafran’ lands and those in Onitsha took their dance to Chukwemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu plaque at the Niger Bridge Head and out of envy, and  because of the singing and dancing, and banters they were throwing with one another, the soldiers, who mounted a road-block there, opened fire on the dancing protesters and killed four.

He said that no amount of intimidation, harassment and killing of their members will make them resort to violence, adding that “the military is doing all sorts of things to push us into violence, but we will never do that because that is what has been setting us free in all the harassment and intimidation we have been going through.”

Vanguard gathered that immediately the four people were killed, the Police, Army, Navy and Civil Defencee, that had been harassing and intimidating the residents and subjecting them to all sorts of dehumanizing treatment  at their check-points, including raising up their hands before crossing their check-points, abandoned the roads.

The  busy Onitsha Owerri Road, Asaba Onitsha Enugu expressway, were a shadow of themselves as people deserted the roads for fear of being shot by the military and the Police, who were said to be regrouping to confront the IPOB and MASSOB members.

Seven people, who sustained bullet wounds, were transferred to Multi Care Hospital, Onitsha and the bodies of the dead  were said to have been taken to a yet to be identified hospital in Onitsha.

Kanu entitled to right to liberty

Meanwhile, the Federal High Court ruling by Justice Adeniyi, came barely 24 hours after an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court sitting at Wuse Zone 2, struck out a one-count  charge the Federal Government preferred against the IPOB leader.

Justice Adeniyi, yesterday, held that Kanu was entitled to his right to liberty as enshrined in section 35(1) (4) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

He maintained that the continued detention of Kanu after two months without trial, was in violation of section 158 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution.

Justice Ademola said there was no law permitting the DSS or any other security agency to detain any Nigerian beyond two months without any concrete move to try such person before a competent court.

The judge said available facts before him showed that the DSS was not ready to release Kanu on bail.

He, therefore, ordered the DSS to immediately grant  unconditional bail to the applicant.

Okorocha commends soldiers for handling IPOB, MASSOB protests

Meanwhile, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, has commended the Nigerian Army for peacefully and tactically handling the recent protest staged in Owerri by thousands of loyalists of IPOB, and  MASSOB.

The governor, who spoke while on a visit to the 34 Field Artillery Brigade, Obinze, yesterday, also expressed happiness that no life was lost during the protest in Owerri.

“This administration is very pleased with the way the officers and men of the Nigerian Army handled thousands of MASSOB members, who staged a protest in Owerri recently, as well as ensured that there was  no bloodshed,” Okorocha said.

He regretted the poor state of facilities at the Obinze barrack and assured that he was going to draw the attention of the Federal Government to the situation in the barrack.

In Enugu, wild jubilation erupted in major streets of Enugu metropolis, yesterday, as the news of the release of detained Director, Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu filtered in.

When Vanguard moved round Ogui Road, New Haven streets in Enugu, people especially youths, were in a frenzy mood, just as most relaxation spots were filled to the brim occasioned by his release.

Triumph over forces of injustice

Leader of  MASSOB, Uchenna Madu, who had been the arrow-head of the struggle for Kanu’s release said: “The discharge, dropping of the charge against Kanu by the Nigerian government is a triumph over forces of injustice, suppression, oppression and subugation against the oppressed IPOB.

“MASSOB’s consistency and uncompromised spirit under me has been vindicated. MASSOB shall continue with IPOB for genuine, committed Biafran non- violent struggle. We salute our comrades in IPOB both at home and in the Diaspora for their unrelenting, courageous efforts, spirit of oneness in pursuing the vision and mission of IPOB.

“Nnamdi Kanu has become the hero of genuine Biafra agitation. Those, who earlier opposed Kanu will cover their faces in shame. MASSOB hails the committed, eloquent, dedicated Igbo leaders, who fearlessly assisted in the release of our brother, Kanu. MASSOB knows them, because we met and appealed to them and they responded. Kanu shall be received in Biafraland as the greatest hero.”

Ohanaeze Ndigbo tasks fg on 2014 confab resolutions

Also, drawng from Nnamdi Kanu’s release, the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to quickly implement the resolutions of 2014 National conference report as a credible panacea that will address the grave injustices, neglect, marginalization meted to the people of South-East zone.

General Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Joe Nworgu told Vanguard on phone that, the “Federal Government took the right action by releasing Nnamdi Kanu. His arrest heightened tension. Now that he had been freed, tension will reduce. Looking out of my office, in Ogui Road, Enugu, thousands of people are jubilating.”

Jubilation in Aba

Members of IPOB, in Aba, Abia State went into wild celebrations over the release of their detained leader, Nnnamdi Kanu.

The IPOB members, who had gone round the city, Wednesday, over the judgment of Abuja Magistrate’s Court to that acquitted Kanu as early as 7a.m., converged at National High School, on Port Harcourt Raod, from where they took off to Cemetery Market, Faulks Road and ended their march at Osusu Primary School.

Vanguard gathered that the group had, yesterday, warned that markets and business centres in the city would be shut in support for their detained leader, but the news of Kanu’s release, changed the situation as traders later opened for business.

Some of the IPOB members, who spoke to Vanguard, said that the release of Kanu has been long awaited, adding that  the agitation for a sovereign state of Biafra would never die.

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